Witsius, The Covenant of Works Abrogated


Of the Abrogation of the Covenant of Works

Section XX

“And that covenant [of works] is so really abrogated, that it can on no account be renewed. For, should we imagine God saying to man, “If, for the future, thou canst perfectly keep my law, thou shalt thereby acquire a right to eternal life,” God would not by such words renew this very covenant of works; for sin is now pre-supposed to exist, which is contrary to that perfection of obedience which the covenant of works requires. God would therefore transact here with man on a different condition, whereby, forgiving the former sin, he would prescribe a condition of an obedience less perfect than that which he stipulated by the covenant of works; which, excluding all sin, knew nothing of forgiveness of sin. Nay, such a transaction would be so far from a renewal of the covenant of works, that it would rather manifestly destroy it; for the penal sanction makes a part of that covenant, whereby God threatened the sinner with death: so that, if he forgave him without a due satisfaction, he would act contrary to the covenant and his own truth.” Herman Witsius, “Economy of the Covenants. Volume 1 p. 199

Google Books Witsius Economy

It appears Robert Shaw agrees with Witsius.

As Robert Shaw states,  Adam was created under this Law in a natural form but then was  brought under it in the form of a Covenant.

Section I.–God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it; and endued him with power and ability to keep it.

The law, as thus inscribed on the heart of the first man, is often styled the law of creation, because it was the will of the sovereign Creator, revealed to the reasonable creature, by impressing it upon his mind and heart at his creation. It is also called the moral law, because it was a revelation of the will of God, as his moral governor, and was the standard and rule of man’s moral actions. Adam was originally placed under this law in its natural form, as merely directing and obliging him to perfect obedience. He was brought under it in a covenant form, when an express threatening of death, and a gracious promise of life, was annexed to it; and then a positive precept was added, enjoining him not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, as the test of his obedience to the whole law.–Gen. ii. 16, 17. That this covenant was made with the first man, not as a single person, but as the federal representative of all his natural posterity, has been formerly shown. The law, as invested with a covenant form, is called, by the Apostle Paul, “The law of works” (Rom. iii. 27); that is, the law as a covenant of works. In this form, the law is to be viewed as not only prescribing duty, but as promising life as the reward of obedience, and denouncing death as the punishment of transgression. ….

Section II.–This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon mount Sinai in ten commandments, and written in two tables; the first four commandments containing our duty toward God, and the other six our duty to man.


Upon the fall of man, the law, considered as a covenant of works, was annulled and set asidebut, considered as moral, it continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness. That fair copy of the law which had been inscribed on the heart of the first man in his creation, was, by the fall, greatly defaced, although not totally obliterated. Some faint impressions of it still remain on the minds of all reasonable creatures. Its general principles, such as, that God is to be worshipped, that parents ought to be honoured, that we should do to others what we would reasonably wish that they should do to us–such general principles as these are still, in some degree, engraved on the minds of all men. – Rom. ii. 14,15. But the original edition of the law being greatly obliterated, God was graciously pleased to give a new and complete copy of it. He delivered it to the Israelites from Mount Sinai, with awful solemnity. In this promulgation of the law, he summed it up in ten commandments; and, therefore, it is commonly styled the Law of the Ten Commandments.

Also see…


Images of Jesus, idolatry?


This topic comes up ever so often. I find that this issue is a sticky one. There is much ignorance in our thinking and in the the thinking of the Church about the historical biblical position on images of Christ. Pastor Andrew Webb did a splendid job on this in an essay so I am bringing more attention to his brief study on the subject.

In the first place, one may make no images of God whatsoever; that is, of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Firstly, this is absolutely forbidden in this commandment and in many other passages. Consider only the following passage: “Ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves…lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, the likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: and lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven” (Deut. 4:12, 15–19). Who then, while believing the Word of God, would be so bold to act blatantly contrary to this and make images of God—a practice clearly forbidden?

Thanks for all you do Pastor Webb.


Should we make Images of Jesus?
The Relationship between
the Second Commandment and Images of Christ

The Following is a Brief listing of just some of the Reformed Evangelical witnesses that directly address the creation and use of pictures of Jesus, either in worship, decoration, art, or mental imagery. They are arranged in chronological order from the Reformation to the present day.

Table of Contents
(1561) The Second Helvetic Confession – Chapter IV
(1648) The Westminster Larger Catechism Q&A 109
(1674) Thomas Vincent, A Family Instructional Guide
(1679) John Owen, The Glory of Christ
(1692) Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments
(1700) Wilhelmus A’Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service
(1753) Ebenezer Erskine and James Fisher, The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Explained, By Way of Question and Answer
(1949) J.G. Vos (son of Geerhardus Vos) Commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism
(1961) Prof. John Murray, Pictures of Christ
(1970) G.I. Williamson, The Shorter Catechism For Study Classes
(1973 & 1993) J.I. Packer, Knowing God, Chapter 4
(2004) Andrew Webb, Final Thoughts

(1561) The Second Helvetic Confession – Chapter IV (Of Idols or Images of God, Christ and The Saints)
Images of God. Since God as Spirit is in essence invisible and immense, he cannot really be expressed by any art or image. For this reason we have no fear pronouncing with Scripture that images of God are mere lies. Therefore we reject not only the idols of the Gentiles, but also the images of Christians. Although Christ assumed human nature, yet he did not on that account assume it in order to provide a model for carvers and painters. He denied that he had come to abolish the law and the prophets (Matt. 5:17). But images are forbidden by the law and the prophets (Deut. 4:15; Isa. 44:9). He denied that his bodily presence would be profitable for the Church, and promised that he would be near us by his Spirit forever (John 16:7). Who, therefore, would believe that a shadow or likeness of his body would contribute any benefit to the pious? (II Cor. 5:5). Since he abides in us by his Spirit, we are therefore the temple of God (II Cor. 3:16). But what agreement has the temple of God with idols? (II Cor. 6:16).

(1648) The Westminster Larger Catechism Q&A 109
Q109: What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?
A109: The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising,[1] counseling,[2] commanding,[3] using,[4] and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself;[5] tolerating a false religion;[6] the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever;[7] all worshiping of it,[8] or God in it or by it;[9] the making of any representation of feigned deities,[10] and all worship of them, or service belonging to them;[11] all superstitious devices,[12] corrupting the worship of God,[13] adding to it, or taking from it,[14] whether invented and taken up of ourselves,[15] or received by tradition from others,[16] though under the title of antiquity,[17] custom,[18] devotion,[19] good intent, or any other pretense whatsoever;[20] simony;[21] sacrilege;[22] all neglect,[23] contempt,[24] hindering,[25] and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.[26]

1. Num. 15:39 14. Deut. 4:2
2. Deut. 13:6-8 15. Psa. 106:39
3. Hosea 5:11; Micah 6:16 16. Matt. 15:9
4. I Kings 11:33; 12:33 17. I Peter 1:18
5. Deut. 12:30-32 18. Jer. 44:17
6. Deut. 13:6-12; Zech. 13:2-3; Rev. 2:2, 14-15, 20, Rev. 17:12, 16-17 19. Isa. 65:3-5; Gal. 1:13-14
7. Deut. 4:15-19; Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:21-23, 25 20. I Sam. 13:11-12; 15:21
8. Dan. 3:18; Gal. 4:8 21. Acts 8:18
9. Exod. 32:5 22. Rom. 2:22; Mal. 3:8
10. Exod. 32:8 23. Exod. 4:24-26
11. I Kings 18:26, 28; Isa. 65:11 24. Matt. 22:5; Mal. 1:7, 13
12. Acts 17:22; Col. 2:21-23 25. Matt. 23:13
13. Mal. 1:7-8, 14 26. Acts 13:44-45; I Thess. 2:15-16

(1674) Thomas Vincent, A Family Instructional Guide
“QUESTION 5: Is it not lawful to have images or pictures of God by us, so we do not worship them, nor God by them?
ANSWER: The images or pictures of God are an abomination, and utterly unlawful, because they debase God, and may be a cause of idolatrous worship.
QUESTION 6: Is it not lawful to have pictures of Jesus Christ, he being a man as well as God?
ANSWER: It is not lawful to have pictures of Jesus Christ, because his divine nature cannot be pictured at all; and because his body, as it is now glorified, cannot be pictured as it is; and because, if it do not stir up devotion, it is in vain; if it stir up devotion, it is a worshipping by an image or picture, and so a palpable breach of the second commandment.” [Thomas Vincent, A Family Instructional Guide]

(1679) John Owen, The Glory of Christ
Many there are who, not comprehending, not being affected with, that divine, spiritual description of the person of Christ which is given us by the Holy Ghost in the Scripture, do feign unto themselves false representations of him by images and pictures, so as to excite carnal and corrupt affections in their minds. By the help of their outward senses, they reflect on their imaginations the shape of a human body, cast into postures and circumstances dolorous or triumphant; and so, by the working of their fancy, raise a commotion of mind in themselves, which they suppose to be love unto Christ. But all these idols are teaches of lies. The true beauty and amiableness of the person of Christ, which is the formal object and cause of divine love, is so far from being represented herein, as that the mind is thereby wholly diverted from the contemplation of it. For no more can be so pictured unto us but what may belong unto a mere man, and what is arbitrarily referred unto Christ, not by faith, but by corrupt imagination.

The beauty of the person of Christ, as represented in the Scripture, consists in things invisible unto the eyes of flesh. They are such as no hand of man can represent or shadow. It is the eye of faith alone that can see this King in his beauty. What else can contemplate on the untreated glories of his divine nature? Can the hand of man represent the union of his natures in the same person, wherein he is peculiarly amiable? What eye can discern the mutual communications of the properties of his different natures in the same person, which depends thereon, whence it is that God laid down his life for us, and purchased his church with his own blood? In these things, O vain man! does the loveliness of the person of Christ unto the souls of believers consist, and not in those strokes of art which fancy has guided a skilful hand and pencil unto. And what eye of flesh can discern the inhabitation of the Spirit in all fulness in the human nature? Can his condescension, his love, his grace, his power, his compassion, his offices, his fitness and ability to save sinners, be deciphered on a tablet, or engraven on wood or stone? However such pictures may be adorned, however beautified and enriched, they are not that Christ which the soul of the spouse does love; they are not any means of representing his love unto us, or of conveying our love unto him; they only divert the minds of superstitious persons from the Son of God, unto the embraces of a cloud, composed of fancy and imagination.

Others there are who abhor these idols, and when they have so done, commit sacrilege. As they reject images, so they seem to do all love unto the person of Christ, distinct from other acts of obedience, as a fond imagination. But the most superstitious love unto Christ that is, love acted in ways tainted with superstition is better than none at all. But with what eyes do such persons read the Scriptures? With what hearts do they consider them? What do they conceive is the intention of the Holy Ghost in all those descriptions which he gives us of the person of Christ as amiable and desirable above all things, making wherewithal a proposal of him unto our affections inciting us to receive him by faith, and to cleave unto him in love? yea, to what end is our nature endued with this affection unto what end is the power of it renewed in us by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit if it may not be fixed on this most proper and excellent object of it? This is the foundation of our love unto Christ namely, the revelation and proposal of him unto us in the Scripture as altogether lovely. The discovery that is made therein of the glorious excellencies and endowments of his person of his love, his goodness, and grace of his worth and work is that which engageth the affections of believers unto him. It may be said, that if there be such a proposal of him made unto all promiscuously, then all would equally discern his amiableness and be affected with it, who assent equally unto the truth of that revelation. But it has always fallen out otherwise. In the days of his flesh, some that looked on him could see neither “ form nor comeliness ” in him Therefore he should be desired; others saw his glory “ glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth ”. To some he is precious; unto others he is disallowed and rejected a stone which the builders refused, when others brought it forth, crying, “ Grace, grace unto it ” as the head of the corner. Some can see nothing but weakness in him; unto others the wisdom and power of God do evidently shine forth in him. Therefore it must be said, that notwithstanding that open, plain representation that is made of him in the Scripture, unless the holy Spirit gives us eyes to discern it, and circumcise our hearts by the cutting off corrupt prejudices and all effects of unbelief, implanting in them, by the efficacy of his grace, this blessed affection of love unto him, all these things will make no impression on our minds.

As it was with the people on the giving of the law, notwithstanding all the great and mighty works which God had wrought among them, yet having not given them “ a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear ” which he affirms that he had not done, Deut. 29:4, they were not moved unto faith or obedience by them; so is it in the preaching of the gospel. Notwithstanding all the blessed revelation that is made of the excellencies of the person of Christ therein, yet those into whose hearts God does not shine to give the knowledge of his glory in his face, can discern nothing of it, nor are their hearts affected with it.

We do not, therefore, in these things, follow “ cunningly-devised fables. ” We do not indulge unto our own fancies and imaginations; they are not unaccountable raptures or ecstasies which are pretended unto, nor such an artificial conjoining of thoughts as some ignorant of these things do boast that they can give an account of.

Our love to Christ ariseth alone from the revelation that is made of him in the Scripture is ingenerated, regulated, measured, and is to be judged thereby.

(1692) Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments
If it is not lawful to make the image of God the Father, yet may we not make an image of Christ, who took upon him the nature of man?
No! Epiphanies, seeing an image of Christ hanging in a church, brake it in pieces. It is Christ’s Godhead, united to his manhood, that makes him to be Christ; therefore to picture his manhood, when we cannot picture his Godhead, is a sin, because we make him to be but half Christ – we separate what God has joined, we leave out that which is the chief thing which makes him to be Christ.

(1700) Wilhelmus A’Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service
Question: Are men permitted to make images of God—that is, of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—and of deceased saints, in order to worship and honor them, or to serve God and the saints by them?

We declare, on the contrary, that the making of images of the Trinity is absolutely forbidden. We neither know the spiritual nature of the angels nor the true physical appearance of Christ and the apostles. Thus, the images made of them are without resemblance, and it is vanity to make an image and say: That is Christ, that is Mary, that is Peter, etc. Yes, even if we had their true pictures, we may nevertheless not worship, honor, nor engage in any religious activity toward them. We may not honor Christ, Mary, Peter, and other saints in this manner. The question is twofold, and we shall refute each part individually.

In the first place, one may make no images of God whatsoever; that is, of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Firstly, this is absolutely forbidden in this commandment and in many other passages. Consider only the following passage: “Ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves…lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, the likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: and lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven” (Deut. 4:12, 15–19). Who then, while believing the Word of God, would be so bold to act blatantly contrary to this and make images of God—a practice clearly forbidden?

Secondly, God cannot be depicted and it is therefore God’s will that such ought not to occur. “To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto Him?” (Isa. 40:18).

Thirdly, it highly dishonors God. “And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Rom. 1:23). The Papists readily imitate this. They depict God the Father in the appearance of a man, that is, of an old man; God the Son in the appearance of a four–footed beast, that is, of a lamb; and God the Holy Spirit in the appearance of a bird, that is, a dove. They thus dishonor God as the heathen do.

Fourthly, it corrupts man. “Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves…lest ye corrupt yourselves” (Deut. 4:15–16). For this prompts man to think of God—who is a Spirit, and who must be served in Spirit—in physical terms.

Objection #2: Both the images of God and of the saints have educational value .
(1) God has nevertheless forbidden this. This is pagan thinking and we should not pretend it to be beneficial, since it is forbidden.
(2) God will not have us taught by dumb images, but by His Word. “Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:24,105).

(1753) Ebenezer Erskine and James Fisher, The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Explained, By Way of Question and Answer
Q. 9. May we not have a picture of Christ, who has a true body?
A. By no means; because, though he has a true body and a reasonable soul, John 1:14, yet his human nature subsists in his divine person, which no picture can represent, Psalm 45:2.

Q. 10. Why ought all pictures of Christ to be abominated by Christians?
A. Because they are downright lies, representing no more than the picture of a mere man: whereas, the true Christ is God-man; “Immanuel, God with us,” 1 Tim. 3:16; Matt. 1:23.

(1949) J.G. Vos (son of Geerhardus Vos) Commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism
2. Is it wrong to make paintings or pictures of our Savior Jesus Christ? According to the Larger Catechism, this is certainly wrong, for the catechism interprets the second commandment as forbidding the making of any representation of any of the three persons of the Trinity, which would certainly include Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, God the Son. While pictures of Jesus are extremely common in the present day, we should realize that in Calvinistic circles this is a relatively modern development. Our forefathers at the time of the Reformation, and for perhaps 300 years afterward, scrupulously refrained, as a matter of principle, from sanctioning or making use of pictures of Jesus Christ. Such pictures are so common in the present day, and so few people have conscientious objections to them, that; it is practically impossible to obtain any Sabbath School helps or Bible story; material for children that is free of such pictures. The American Bible Society is to be commended for its decision that the figure of the Savior may not appear in Bible motion pictures issued by the Society.

3. What attitude should we adopt in view of the present popularity of pictures of Jesus Christ? The following considerations may be suggested as bearing on this question: (a) The Bible presents no information whatever about the personal appearance of Jesus Christ, but it does teach that we are not to think of him as he may have appeared “in the days of his flesh,” but as he is today in heavenly glory, in his estate of exaltation (2 Cor. 5:46). (b) Inasmuch as the Bible presents no data about the personal appearance of our Savior, all artists’ pictures of him are wholly imaginary and constitute only the artists’ ideas of his character and appearance. (c) Unquestionably pictures of the Savior have been very greatly influenced by the theological viewpoint of the artist. The typical modem picture of Jesus is the product of nineteenth-century “Liberalism” and presents a “gentle Jesus” who emphasized only the love and Fatherhood of God and said little or nothing about sin, judgment, and eternal punishment. (d) Perhaps more people living today have derived their ideas of Jesus Christ from these typically “liberal” pictures of Jesus than have derived their ideas of Jesus from the Bible itself. Such people inevitably think of Jesus as a human person, rather than thinking of him according to the biblical teaching as a divine person with a human nature. The inevitable effect of the popular acceptance of pictures of Jesus is to overemphasize his humanity and to forget or neglect his deity (which of course no picture can portray). (e) In dealing with an evil so widespread and almost universally accepted, we should bear a clear testimony against what we believe to be wrong, but we should not expect any sudden change in Christian sentiment on this question. It will require many years of education in scriptural principles before the churches and their members can be brought back to the high position of the Westminster Assembly on this question. Patience will be required.

4. Are not pictures of Jesus legitimate provided they are not worshiped or used as “aids to worship”? As interpreted by the Westminster Assembly, the second commandment certainly forbids all representations of any of the persons of the Trinity, and this coupled with the truth taught in the Westminster Standards that Christ is a divine person with a human nature taken into union with himself, and not a human person, would imply that it is wrong to make pictures of Jesus Christ for any purpose whatever. Of course, there is a difference between using pictures of Jesus to illustrate children’s Bible story books or lessons, and using pictures of Jesus in worship as Roman Catholics use them. Admittedly the former is not an evil in the same class with the latter. In spite of this distinction, however, there are good reasons for holding that our forefathers of the Reformation were right in opposing all pictorial representation of the Savior. We should realize that the popularity – even the almost unchallenged prevalence – of a particular practice does not prove that it is right. To prove that a practice is right we must show that it is in harmony with the commands and principles revealed in the Word of God. Merely showing that a practice is common, is useful, or seems to have good results does not prove it is right.

(1961) Prof. John Murray, Pictures of Christ
“Secondly, pictures of Christ are in principle a violation of the second commandment. A picture of Christ, if it serves any useful purpose, must evoke some thought or feeling respecting him and, in view of what he is, this thought or feeling will be worshipful. We cannot avoid making the picture a medium of worship. But since the materials for this medium of worship are not derived from the only revelation we possess respecting Jesus, namely, Scripture, the worship is constrained by a creation of the human mind that has no revelatory warrant. This is will-worship. For the principle of the second commandment is that we are to worship God only in ways prescribed and authorized by him. It is a grievous sin to have worship constrained by a human figment, and that is what a picture of the Saviour involves.”

(1970) G.I. Williamson, The Shorter Catechism For Study Classes
The second commandment is broken when men attempt to make a graven image or a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches us that there is one God. It teaches us to worship the three persons, the father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. But Paul tells us that we “ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone graven by art and man’s device” (Acts 17:29)…

There was a time when the Protestants recognized this evil. They saw the images in the Roman Catholic Church and they understood that this was a violation of the second commandment. They realized that this was wrong – this making of images and likenesses of Christ – even though the Roman Catholic Church was careful to say that it did not want people to worship these images, but only to worship the Lord through these images. But now, it seems, many Protestants have accepted the Roman Catholic position. They may not realize this. And they may still think, in their minds, that there is an important difference between a statue (image) and a picture (likeness). But the commandment recognizes no such difference. It forbids us to make any likeness, just as it forbids us to make any image, of the Lord.

J. I. Packer can be accessed here… https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/j-i-packer-on-idolatry-and-images-of-christ/

(2004) Andrew Webb – Final Thoughts
To the arguments that are made above, I would add this pragmatic argument against making pictures of Jesus that I find particularly compelling.

Jesus is the Lord of the Nations. In Him the middle wall of separation is decisively broken down and “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free.” When we make a picture of Christ we inevitably portray him as representative of one race or another. Mel Gibson’s Jesus, for instance, is obviously very white. We have once again created a false Jesus that one race can feel comfortable with. He is “one of us.” While this is comforting to members of that particular race, it is inevitably irritating to people of other cultures and can actually be a barrier to communicating the gospel to other nations and races. As a result of all the images of the Scandinavian Hippy that westerners have called Jesus, there has been an inevitable backlash and now images of Asian, Middle-Eastern, African, etc. Jesus’ are being demanded, and these counter-images offend many Westerners. “That’s not Jesus!” they angrily proclaim, because they know what Jesus looks like – they’ve been seeing images of him since they were children. He’s tall, and blond, has a beard and a vaguely sorrowful expression.

The sad thing about this whole argument over what Jesus looked like is that it is so needless. The Apostolic church turned the whole world upside-down via the preaching of the Gospel. Not once did they use pictures of Jesus. What would Peter or Paul say coming into one of our churches and seeing one of our many images of Jesus? Obviously they wouldn’t recognize it as the image of the Savior they knew. Wouldn’t they assume that this was yet another example of the kind of Hellenistic idolatry they were so familiar, “Men of America, I perceive that in all things you are very religious…” Aren’t we best served proclaiming the gospel of a Christ who is too glorious to be portrayed as a mere man from any one race?

The Day of Your Visitation

Luk 19:41 And when he (Jesus) drew near and saw the city (Jerusalem), he wept over it,
Luk 19:42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
Luk 19:43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side
Luk 19:44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
English Standard Version


Luk 19:41 And when he (Jesus) was come near (Jerusalem), he beheld the city, and wept over it,
Luk 19:42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
Luk 19:43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
Luk 19:44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
King James Version

That was part of the passage Pastor James Faris preached yesterday at 2nd Reformed Presbyterian Church. I have always been taken by the phrase “day of visitation” because it seems that most of us experience certain times in life when God softens our hearts to hear His counsel.  We either heed it or we harden our hearts against it.  This is true for the believer and the non-believer.

For the believer this time of visitation is usually for encouragement and strength or for something we need to repent of.  For the unbeliever it is a call to be reconciled to God. It is a message to believe in the person and work of Christ so that they might have everlasting life.  A day of visitation can also be a time of recompense for the evil a person or even Nations have to account for.

I may be incorrect but it seems that there are certain times when He visits the soul. You shouldn’t say tomorrow, tomorrow I will take care of the thing God is visiting me about. Our hearts are too fickle, easily hardened, and God doesn’t have a limitless patience. He is longsuffering but he does have a time frame that shouldn’t be neglected. I think I can back this up with the following passage along with a warning from the book of Hebrews.

Revelation chapter 2

Rev 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
Rev 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
Rev 2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
Rev 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

If you ever have a chance, note all of the instances where the word visitation is used in the Scriptures. It is a fascinating nugget of God’s word. It seems it signifies days of judgment or times when men may be called to account for their lives either in this world or the world to come.  When you do it keep in mind two passages if you are a believer.  Our actions as children of God might have some effect upon others when they have a ‘day of visitation’.

Matthew chapter 5

Mat 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
Mat 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Mat 5:15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
Mat 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

1 Peter chapter 2

1Pe 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
1Pe 2:12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Just a few examples from the Old Testament..

Isa 10:3 And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?

Jer 8:12 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.

And a warning to not harden our hearts in the the times of temptation and days of visitation…

Heb 3:4 For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.
Heb 3:5 And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;
Heb 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.
Heb 3:7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,
Heb 3:8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
Heb 3:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.
Heb 3:10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.
Heb 3:11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
Heb 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
Heb 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Heb 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
Heb 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
Heb 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Heb 4:4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
Heb 4:5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
Heb 4:6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
Heb 4:7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading Our Bibles In Halves


Matthew Henry states,

“Note, therefore it is that people run into mistakes, because they read their Bibles by the halves, and are as partial in the prophets as they are in the law. They are only for the smooth things, Isa. 30:10. Thus now we are too apt, in reading the prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled, to have our expectations raised of the glorious state of the church in the latter days. But we overlook its wilderness sackcloth state, and are willing to fancy that is over, and nothing is reserved for us but the halcyon days; and then, when tribulation and persecution arise, we do not understand it, neither know we the things that are done, though we are told as plainly as can be that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God. – Matthew Henry on Luke 18:31-34.”

I once noted to myself that the Prophet Jeremiah was one of my favorite Prophets.  He didn’t see much fruit or revival towards God and he was sent to preach to a people who wouldn’t hear.  And he knew this.

I have been rather bitter lately.  I am an old Navy Veteran with some theological accumen.  I have been the kid in the neighborhood who pillaged things you didn’t know you would miss.  I have smoked my fair share of marijuana and have friends of many different lifestyles.  In all of that I still had a knowledge of what was good behavior and bad behavior.  I didn’t try to justify my behavior.  I liked doing the wrong things but I didn’t need to move the boundaries of truth to justify my behavior.  A pervert is a pervert.  A Wackadoodle is a wackadoodle.  An Adulterer is an Adulterer.  A Thief is a Thief.  A Murder is a Murderer.  An Idolater is an Idlolater.  A Traitor is a Traitor.  Maybe you can see where I am going with this.

In the past decade I have seen the Church and Society redefine things that should never be redefined.  Not many people now days have the courage to stand up and own up.  They all have to feel like God is a kind nice dude who doesn’t care about the things we once thought he cared about.  Sin is no longer a word used to characterize bad behavior as it once was in society.  Mankind has many pills now to help us get over the fact that so many people feel degraded in their consciences.  Guilty feelings are bad.  They hinder growth and really prove nothing.  So what if a person left their mate (spouse) because they didn’t feel good anylonger in the relationship and because the excitement was gone.   So what if they desire another mate?  Adultery and violating a vow taken is nothing.  Time heals all things.  It matters not if you are truly guilty.  Now days we don’t have the Yatzee to just be honest.  Honesty would show we are guilty.  And we can’t have that.  So let’s make everything lawful even to the point of saying that homosexuality may be called marriage.  What a perversion.  And btw, that is perversion.  It perverts the very essence and definition of marriage.  That is why it is called perversion.

Well, as we are being distracted by the decades of divorce, adultery, pot smoking, etc.. etc.. etc.. other things have transpired that have me questioning what in the world happened?  Politicians have gone and endorsed things that haven’t been endorsed since the days of Rome.  We have also gone and allowed the President of the United States to violate the Constitution.  Our Nation is forced to buy things such as Health Care by punitive reinforcement.  We have watched the SCOTUS change the definition of marriage and promote perversion.  We have seen the POTUS’s man John Kerry (the Secretary of State) make a deal with our enemies in Iran that is beyond being a Traitor.  What is happening?  There was a time when God and Country meant something.  These people haven’t tried to remove our foundation.  They have succeeded.  And Nobody seems to be doing anything about it.  I thought we had checks and balances.

It will be interesting to see what Christ is doing through His Church in the next hundred years.  Kid’s now days don’t know they have violated God’s law.  Thanks to Television, their parents, and our wonderful political leaders.  They can’t even call a terrorist a terrorist.  There are so many examples of truth hiding it is over whelming.

I guess I should just be thankful for God’s grace and mercy, keep on telling people the truth concerning God’s Law, and not expect any more than what Matthew Henry has stated.   Maybe God will perform in generations to come as he did after Jeremiah’s time.  I sure pray for it.  I really expect it.  Christ is King and His Gospel is so wonderful.

R2K or not… All Politics are a war for the soul of men

I was taught right and wrong based upon a presumption. I was taught what my Society taught me was true. I freely admit that. My parents were not raised in Church. I wasn’t. But I was raised knowing the Ten Commandments and how they relate to some of my life. I came from a Dutch family that migrated to America for a better life I imagine. My English predecessors (which are a small faction in my heritage) were here for progress as I can imagine. We have cars in our heritage. My German (and I am mostly Dutch / German and Swede) came over for probably religious reasons as some of my heritage suggests. But I am not sure. My Swedish family came over for probably other reasons even though they were strictly Lutheran as I know. But I am an actual descendant of William Bradford (English) the Governor of the Plymouth Plantation who came over for the true reason of seeing Christ’s Kingdom being furthered. Yes, For that purpose. So they could WORSHIP GOD FREELY. FREEDOM. NOT ANARCHY.

Let me say I am an actual descendant of the William Bradford’s line. He helped write and put together the Mayflower Compact which is one of our Nation’s original Governmental Covenantal documents. I think I can prove that.

I can imagine some of the arguments against such a proposition. Especially since I have communicated with D. G. Hart, R. Scott Clark, and others of their theological perspective…. Guess how I will end this story as a descendant of our founder in light of recent Modern Reformed discussions? Especially since I am from a Covenanter theological persuasion. Guess what recent controversies we would discuss? Their perspective is called Radical Two Kingdom Theology and what I call Klineanism. They believe in a dualism that is dichotomous. The Government operates from a different foundation than the Church concerning what is Moral. Is it doing us any good as a Church in light of what I may have been taught concerning the Kingdom of Christ: Is this teaching doing anyone’s children any good? Is it opposed to what we have been taught? I believe it is and it has hurt the Church and Society as a whole. I will post what I have been taught in a video below. Some would refer to it as Romanism. I would say it isn’t. It is not like Romanism. It does depend upon the Decalogue though. Why is that bad or not bad? I believe Rome is better than this Society in some ways since I believe some Roman Catholics do find Christ as our Reformers did. I also believe some Roman Catholics are saved. At least they had the whole Law to guide them. This Society in the United States of America has very little if nothing. It even denies the founders now saying they were incorrect in so many ways.

Please don’t bring up the Slavery issue. It is a moot issue. Check your facts.

I believe when the Ten Commandments are denied the soul of men are left to death. There is nothing to point to what is correct or wrong. The Ten Commandments point to life also. Some say they point to death only. I would say they are the way of life for the Christian also. Just try disobeying them and denying them as a Christian. Hold tight to them you will find life in Christ. You can not go against the grain of God’s word and find goodness. There is some truth in both statements concerning life and death. The Law has to understood contextually. It has to be understood contextually. It has to be understood contextually. Everyone says that. Even those who are R2K. I believe DR. Clark would agree with that. But we are losing the battle right now. Politics are a war for the soul of men. Even when others deny it in my estimation. Our Society (Government) tells others what they should be comfortable with. It even enforces it. I think the modern R2K guys have lost sight of that. We started off worrying about Marijuana. But I believe Homosexuality is way worse than any argument over what we put in our bodies. The things we can put into our bodies may lead to debauchery but to endorse homosexuality in any form is reprobate and now the USA has done that. Forget the Marijuana thing. This is even worse.

Even the Rainbow has been perverted. Wow! The very symbol that God cares about a perverse mankind and demands repentance has been perverted.

Affirmations and Denials on the Gospel & Sanctification


I just want to bring attention to something I would affirm and put my signature on as an endorsement.

The affirmation below is taken from The Gospel Reformation Network.



The Gospel Reformation Network


• We affirm that legalism is a dangerous problem that the church must always address.
• We deny that legalism is the primary enemy of the gospel to the exclusion of spiritual bondage, moral rebellion and a love for sin.


• We affirm that unregenerate man, being totally depraved, is unable to obey or please God unto salvation.
• We deny that the believer, being regenerated by the Holy Spirit, remains unable to obey and please God, by grace and in Christ.


• We affirm that the gospel provides salvation for the whole man, including man’s need for both imputed and imparted righteousness.
• We deny that the gospel provides freedom from the guilt of sin in justification without deliverance from the power of sin in regeneration and liberation from the practice of sin in sanctification.


• We affirm that both justification and sanctification are distinct, necessary, inseparable and simultaneous graces of union with Christ though faith.
• We deny that sanctification flows directly from justification, or that the transformative elements of salvation are mere consequences of the forensic elements.


• We affirm that gratitude for justification is a powerful motivation for growth in holiness.
• We deny that gratitude for justification is the only valid motivation for holiness, making all other motivations illegitimate or legalistic.


• We affirm that believers are not under the Law as a covenant of works, where the believer is required to merit his or her own righteousness before God.
• We deny that Christ has freed the Christian from the moral Law as the standard of Christian living.



• We affirm that through the finished work of Christ believers are adopted by God as sons and now relate to God as their loving heavenly Father.
• We deny that our adoption precludes God’s fatherly displeasure when His children rebel, or that God’s Fatherly love prevents Him from disciplining Christians who stray from the path of righteousness.


• We affirm that God-glorifying, Christ-centered, Holy Spirit-empowered effort to put off sin and put on righteousness is necessary for Christian growth in grace.
• We deny that all practical effort in sanctification is moralistic, legalistic or that the only effort required for growth is that Christians remember, revisit and rediscover their justification.


• We affirm that growth in the Christian life comes through faith, which believes and acts on the promises of God in the Scriptures.
• We deny that faith is wholly passive in sanctification or separated from good works in the same sense that justification is by faith alone.


• We affirm that faithful preaching of the Law for use in the Christian life must always be done in the context of God’s provision through the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit.
• We deny that preaching the Scripture’s indicatives without the imperatives is a healthy model for Christian ministry because such preaching fails to conform to the pattern seen in Scripture and is dangerous to the life and ministry of the church.


• We affirm that Christians gain assurance of salvation by cherishing the promise of the gospel and by the fruit of the Spirit’s work in the believer’s life.
• We deny that assurance gained through growth in godliness amounts to a performance-based religion or necessitates an unwholesome spiritual pride.


• We affirm that Christians can and should experience victories over sin, however limited and partial, and that these victories bring glory to God and bear testimony to the power of His grace.
• We deny that rejoicing in victories over sin amounts to spiritual pride or performance religion, although Christians may and sometimes do sin in this way.

Titus 1:6 If Any Be Blameless… Failed But Not Done!



I have been around a few years now. I have seen a few Pastors sin and lose their calling because of sin. I have done grievous things against God also.  So I am not throwing stones here. I have no condemnation for anyone who fails in their calling. I am not immune from sinning against God nor failing in my calling. In fact, today I was reminded by Pastor Nick Batzig how prone to sin I am via Ligonier Ministry’s blog. It is titled ‘Take Heed‘. Despite those facts we need to be reminded that God has set boundaries and made requirements concerning who is able to function in certain capacities with authority. I am speaking about the ordained offices of Elder and Pastor.

Church Government is a gift from God.  It is given to us so that we may grow in maturity and unity.  Church Government is not one Man (a Pastor) who is leading a flock of sheep.  It is a part of the body.  It is usually a group of men who are ordained and meet certain qualifications.  So when a Leader of the Church has disqualified himself we should be able to see Christ doing his work through His ordained means.  A Congregation that belongs to Christ has certain features and it shouldn’t look like a group of people following one single individual.  So when some travesty happens, such as we are observing again via media reports, we should see a Church being Governed by the means Christ has ordained. I am not so sure we should be observing just one man declaring he has resigned because of some impropriety.  We should see a King ruling and running His Church through the means he has appointed.  And that just hasn’t been clearly seen for many of us who have lived through the infamous names of fallen Christians these past 30 years. Need I give examples?  I think not.

The Church is about a King and His reconciling Gospel. It is about what God says through His written word as His Spirit teaches us. What we should be seeing during these times of crisis is Christ making a judgment through His ordained means. We should also see how people are fit into His body no matter what they have done. The weaker parts are just as important as the stronger parts according to St. Paul (1 Corinthians 12:21-26) Watching and guiding people as they fit into the Church is a challenge the Church has to deal with on a regular basis. For many aspire to be useful in the Church. And it needs ministers and laypeople to fit together as they have gifts for ministering. Also remember that everyone needs ministered to. Sometimes this challenge to see how a person fits in is hard. Today a special challenge has been given to a Church where a very caring Pastor has committed adultery. He was going through a deep trial in life and became weak and succumbed to the temptation of forbidden love.

The challenge I mention is now given to Tullian Tchividjian’s Session and Presbytery. A Session and Presbytery are parts of Presbyterian Church Polity or Church Government. That is to whom Tullian Tchividjian is responsible to.  And they are responsible for taking care of his family and dealing with the recent situation as it impacts the Church. Now that may sound callous and cold but from my experience as one who has sat under Church discipline and nurture, it is one of the most freeing and nurturing things I have ever experienced. It was also a place where my family and I received a world of protection from others who opposed me and a Devil who desired to devour me and mine. There is grace, mercy, and protection when one is humble and submits to God and His ordained servants. God gives grace to the humble and He tells us through the book of Hebrews to be careful and listen to our Elders.  (Hebrews 13:7-17)

One thing that has been missed during this type of situation in the past is the need to understand that when an Ordained Man falls into great sin (as a Pastor committing adultery) he is no longer qualified to fill a position of Ordained Elder any longer. I mention this fresh situation because I have seen defrocked men avoid the scriptures and seek to be restored as Elders just a few years after their indiscretion. I have also seen Church Members think they are helping these fallen men by getting them refocused on their abilities and usefulness so that they may return to their Prior Position.  Of course the usual course of events start with what appears to be repentance and confession.  Then the Public Relation campaigns start intentionally or unintentionally as others allow these men back into the pulpit. It seems they are being endorsed as men worthy again to fulfill the office of Pastor / Elder.  Unfortunately, the Church becomes more focused on a man’s talents and ability than upon the requirements God has set.

The Church is weakened because the Church has refused to hear what God says about the station this person is not allowed to occupy any longer.  Either that or they are not informed enough to understand what God’s requirements are concerning the office of Elder / Pastor. Because of those situations God’s grace is presumed where it shouldn’t be. And I would even go as far to say it is a Grace that God hasn’t bestowed.  It is no grace at all to restore a person into an office he is now disqualified to occupy. In fact it is injurious and confusing to many who have had to take part in the past experience, especially when divorce  and remarriage was an end result.  That just compounds the whole thing even worse.  And yes, I have experienced that.  No, I didn’t commit adultery but it has touched my life through my parents and my marriage.

Let me explain with a bit more clarity what I mean by the above. The Church needs to recognize that any man that has this type of failure in his life is now unfit for Ordained Eldership for the rest of his life. That doesn’t mean he can’t be useful to God and be a blessing to the world and the body of Christ. It means he is not qualified to Pastor nor be an Ordained Elder in the Church Christ is building. Let me reiterate, that that doesn’t mean he is not an important part of the Church any longer. It might be quite the opposite. In fact, he may actually become more beneficial and effectual for the Church now. Even more so after he has matured through repentance and reconciliation. But according to Titus 1:6 and a few other places where Eldership qualifications are noted, this man is now unqualified to fulfill the role of Ordained Pastor / Elder.

Here is Saint Paul’s word to Titus.

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:  If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. (Titus chapter 1:5,6)

This is how John Calvin explains the phrase, if any man be blameless.
“When he says, that a bishop must be ἀνέγκληος, blameless, he does not mean one who is exempt from every vice, (for no such person could at any time be found,) but one who is marked by no disgrace that would lessen his authority. He means, therefore, that he shall be a man of unblemished reputation. 218″   John Calvin Commentary on Titus

In the past I have seen the body Christ be overly anxious to pull up along side and help mend the fallen. That is very commendable and even commanded by God.

Galatians 6:1-3

1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

But church members might desire to go too far in a fallen Pastor’s life.  They might have so much affection for this person they may actually desire for that person to be restored to their previous life and position.  But that is going against God’s will. I have made that mistake before also.  It is easy. Especially when a person has played a significant part in our growth as a Christian and as a person.

So what needs to happen now? Well, that is for the Church to decide.  They will pull up along side and have to take care of all the congregation as well as Tullian and his relationships. Accountability and discipline will be set in order so that he may become useful and mature through this very hard trial in life.

I have seen an anti-nomian spirit take over the Church. Many have disregarded Titus 1:6. It seems ok to some to restore men who aren’t blameless as Pastors. It is okay in their minds eye if a Pastor falls into adultery and is restored back into Ministry. After all God forgives sin doesn’t he?  Isn’t the Gospel about restoration? They shouldn’t waist their talents and gifts should they? They claim God has forgiven and restores ministry. But my experience is that kind of thinking only makes a mockery of the Church as they neglect Titus 1:6 and similar passages. It neglects the inspired scripture of God.  It also spreads a truncated false gospel message. My kids now can say, “Well what about so and so Dad? He got away with it. (Adultery, Divorce, Remarriage) If God will forgive him, he will forgive me.” Time heals all wounds doesn’t it?  We are commanded to forgive as we have been forgiven.  Of course I don’t allow my boys to understand the Gospel that way and they know the hypocrisy of that anti-nomian position.

I will note that a lot of those quotes above are taken out of context and don’t relate to the topic at hand.  Of course there is forgiveness in Christ.  There is deep love and care to be overjoyed by.  But also know that there are a lot of talented and gifted people who are not called to fulfill ordained positions.  But that doesn’t take away from there ability to be used of God.

It seems presumptuous sin has crept into the Church and a little leaven has leavened the whole now. It breaks my heart. I hope God is merciful toward TT. I hope TT realizes what he has done and is genuinely able to repent. A hardened anti-nomian theology and heart is hard to overcome. I have seen it too many times in my life.  But all things are possible through Christ.

For more reading on previous posts concerning topics related to this you can click here.
Tullian Tchividjian, Michael Horton, David Murray / Depraved Christianity / Antinomianism